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The Sikh Art, Cultural intertwinement with Punjabi culture

Sikh art and culture is synonymous with that of the Punjab region. The Punjab itself has been
called “India‟s melting pot” due to the confluence of invading cultures, such as Greek, Mughal
and Persian. Thus Sikh culture is to a large extent informed by this synthesis of cultures.
Sikhism has forged a unique form of architecture, and the keynote of that architecture is the Gurdwara which is the personification of the “melting pot” of Punjabi cultures, showing Islamic, Sufi and Hindu influences. The reign of the Sikh Empire was the single biggest catalyst in creating a uniquely Sikh form of expression. The “jewel in the crown” of the Sikh Style is the Harmandir Sahib.
Bhangra and the Giddha are two forms of indigenous Punjabi folk dancing that have been
appropriated, adapted and pioneered by Punjabi Sikhs. The Punjabi Sikhs have championed these
forms of expression all over the world, such that Sikh Culture has become inextricably linked to
Bhangra, even though "Bhangra is not a Sikh institution but a Punjabi one." Sikh art and culture is synonymous with that of the Punjab region. The Punjab itself has been called “India‟s melting pot” due to the confluence of invading cultures, such as Greek, Mughal and Persian. Thus Sikh culture is to a large extent informed by this synthesis of cultures.
Sikhism has forged a unique form of architecture, and the keynote of that architecture is the
Gurdwara which is the personification of the “melting pot” of Punjabi cultures, showing Islamic,
Sufi and Hindu influences. The reign of the Sikh Empire was the single biggest catalyst in
creating a uniquely Sikh form of expression. The “jewel in the crown” of the Sikh Style is the
Harmandir Sahib.

Bhangra and the Giddha are two forms of indigenous Punjabi folk dancing that have been appropriated, adapted and pioneered by Punjabi Sikhs. The Punjabi Sikhs have championed these
forms of expression all over the world, such that Sikh Culture has become inextricably linked to
Bhangra, even though "Bhangra is not a Sikh institution but a Punjabi one." Etiquette - Gurdwaras are open to everyone regardless of faith. Visitors must remove their
shoes, wash their hands and cover their head with a cloth before entering, and they may donate
some money for the upkeep of the gurdwara. Visitors are also prohibited to enter the gurdwara
while they are inebriated or possess alcohol, cigarettes or any intoxicating substances. Devotees
sit cross-legged on the floor. On entering the hall, devotees walk slowly and respectfully to the
main throne (takht) on which the Guru Granth Sahib (the holy book) rests. Devotees then stand
before the Guru Granth Sahib, often say a silent prayer, and then bow.

Customs - Many gurdwaras are designed to seat men on one side and women on the other, although designs vary and the divide is far from mandatory. Worshippers are offered Karah Parshad (sweet flour and oil-based food) in the worship hall, which is usually given into cupped hands by a sewadar (volunteer). Langar (communal vegetarian food) made by volunteers is funded by the worshippers themselves. No meat is served in the langar hall because Sikhism promotes vegetarianism and therefore, meat is strictly prohibited in the Gurdwara. Many also believe that eating meat and then entering a Gurdwara is sinful. Langar is always served to the Sangat (the langar congregation) sitting on the ground, as equality amongst all members of the community is a tenet of Sikhism.


THE ARTS
Punjab has generated distinctive forms of virtually all the arts, from dance to architecture, bawdy
folk epics to sublime theological poetry. The best-known folk dance is lively and complex
bhangra, named for bhang (marijuana). In architecture, the most distinctive major form is that of
the Sikh Gurdwaras, which blend Mogul and Rajput elements. In Literature, the most famous
and prominent forms are romantic epic poems. The main ones are Heer Ranjha, Sassi Punun,
and Mirza Shahiban, all by Muslim authors. Older than these are thirteenth-century theological
sufi poems of Shaik Farid. In the Sikh tradition, closely allied in sentiment and style to the sufi,
the most notable groups of poems are by Guru Nanak (1469-1539) and Guru Arjun Dev (1563-
1606). There are also numerous modern poets and writers on both secular and religious topics
and an active film industry that relies heavily on melodrama, folksong, and dance.
MUSIC/DANCE:
Bhengra Music – This is the type of music played for Bhengra dance. It is played using
traditional instruments. One of those instruments is a two-sided drum called a Dohl. Bhengra
music is now gaining popularity.
This link shows Bhengra music being played by musicians using traditional instruments.

Bhangra Dance – A type of folk dance said to originate from farmers dancing in their fields.
This link shows a group of Punjabi men participating in a traditional Bhangra dance.

Information about Bhengra dance and music retrieved from &

Giddha – A form of dance performed by women. This dance is often characterized by the
women standing around in a circle and clapping while small groups (2-3 women) go forward and
dance together. At times, the women will use Giddha to impersonate people or situations to tell a
story or vent their frustration with something happening in their lives.
Information retrieved from.

CUISINE:
Punjabi cuisine can be vegetarian or not. One of the main features of Punjabi cuisine is its
diverse range of dishes. Home cooked and restaurant Punjabi cuisine can vary significantly, with
restaurant style using large amounts of ghee (clarified butter) with liberal amounts
of butter and cream with home cooking concentrating on mainly upon preparations with whole
wheat, rice and other ingredients flavored with masala. The food is tailor-made for the
Punjabi lifestyle because most of the rural folk burn a lot of calories while working in the fields.
The main masala in a Punjabi dish consists of onion, garlic and ginger. Tandoori food is a
Punjabi specialty especially for non-vegetarian dishes. Many of the most popular elements
of Anglo-Indian cuisine - such as Tandoor, Naan, Pakoras and vegetable dishes with paneer -
derive from the Punjab.
FAMILY STRUCTURE
The Sikhs usually live in extended and joint families under one roof. The parents and
grandparents take care of their children and grandchildren. The members of the family help each
other economically, socially, psychologically and spiritually. The Sikh families believe in
monogamy. The marriages are normally arranged by the parents with consent of the children.
Extra-marital and pre-marital relationship is not allowed in Sikh families. Marriage is considered
to be a sacrament. According to the concept of Lavan (Marriage hymns), divorce is not
encouraged in Sikhism. It is expected of the couple to help and support each other in the family
to attain God. Sikhs believe in Nam Simran while living a family life which has all the elements
of love, optimism, laughter, pride, pity, joy, gratitude, respect, purity, service and sacrifice. The
concept of family life teaches to love and respect the parents, grandparents and society at large. It
cares for the vulnerable. It provides psychological foundation for the future and helps in
improving the quality of life. It provides emotional care for its members and opportunity to
practice democratic decision making. Sikh family preserves human values, cultural identity and
historical continuity.
CEREMONIES
Rural Punjabis of all religions share many ceremonies considered customary,
associated with the individual life cycle, village life, and the round of the seasons. Most of the
specific ceremonies associated with marriages come under this heading, as do ceremonies of
birth, naming, and death. An important sequence of annual rituals celebrates the successive roles
a woman plays in her life. The Ceremony of tij is celebrated as the rains begin by young girls and
their brothers in the house of their parents; in the fall harvest season karue is celebrated by newly
married and older married women in the house of the young woman's parents or in-laws; and in
March (in Punjab a time of pleasant weather and steady growth of the all-important wheat crop)
behairi is celebrated by mothers and their young children in the house of the husband. On the
night of Diwali, in October/November, all buildings and structures of a village are outlined in
little oil lamps ( diwas ) and people ask God for prosperity; and in midwinter there is a ceremony
called "Tails" (meaning cattle), when men go in the evening to collect sweets from houses where
boys have been born in the village, build a fire of dung (the traditional cooking fuel) at the
village gate, pray to God for the health of the boys and more in the future, and distribute the
sweets to the village children who come to collect them. Farmers commonly offer first fruits at
village shrines, and almost any start of a venture or stroke of good fortune is an occasion for
distributing sweets. Palki Sahib is a nightly ceremony where the Granth Sahib (the holy book of
the Sikh religion) gets carried from the Golden Temple of Armritsar to its "bed" in the Akal
Takht, the seat of the Sikh parliament.
Death and Afterlife
The main formalized beliefs Concerning death and the afterlife are those of the three major Religious traditions, but the Punjabi versions of these traditions are generally
austere, individualistic, and pragmatic. Religion is viewed as a source of strength and inspiration
to meet the obligations of this world more than as a gateway to another. Funeral practices vary
according to religion.
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